My life as The Phone Lady is incredibly varied because most of my workshops and webinars are customized to clients’ specific needs. Yet all of my clients have a similar goal: they want to create strong, excellent relationships with their clients, customers and prospects. This is accomplished by inspiring generous, open conversations, which may sound easy … but it’s not.
Why are generous, open conversations difficult? What skills are necessary to inspire such conversations?
The main reason great conversations are difficult is – something I mentioned in last week’s post – it’s not about you. In order to have a great conversation with a customer or prospect, you have to get out of the way and focus all your attention, all your senses really, on the other person. This does not mean you should avoid answering their questions or refrain from sharing your stories or knowledge when appropriate but you do want the majority of the conversation to be about their world, their challenges, their hopes – them.
Curiosity is what supports your ability to get out of the way and create these conversations. When you are speaking with a client or prospect, what do you want to know? Do you really understand their business, their industry, their problems? Even if you are an award-winning expert, you do not know these things from their perspective. Being curious applies not only to facts but also to feelings and experiences. When you ignite your own expansive curiosity about your clients and prospects, you will easily be able to keep the focus of your conversations on them, learning more and, as a consequence, being able to provide better solutions and guidance.
Active, empathetic listening is essential and where we tend to go on cruise control. Instead of focusing on what someone is saying, how they say it, the words they choose, their body language (all of which contain vital information), we listen only for our next opportunity to speak. We listen while thinking about what we’ll say next. We listen for them to finish so we can move on to our next question. This is treating listening as a task instead of recognizing it as a moment – the moment – to build a relationship.
When a customer, client or prospect takes the time to speak with us, give us their attention, share with us their thoughts, answer our questions … it is an honour. This has always been the case but in today’s overwhelmed, hectic and suspicious world, it is an invaluable gift.
How are you treating this gift? Are you on cruise control?